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February 26, 2014

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Gas leak puts 16 roommates in hospital

SIXTEEN people who shared an apartment in Jing’an District with 17 others were taken to hospital yesterday suffering with carbon monoxide poisoning.

One of the 33 tenants who live in the 171-square-meter unit at Tianxiang Building called the emergency services about 1:45am after some of the residents complained of feeling sick and dizzy.

Paramedics diagnosed 16 people as suffering from low-level carbon monoxide poisoning and sent them to hospital.

“I started feeling dizzy and was finding it hard to breath,” a man told Shanghai Daily from his bed at Putuo Hospital.

Doctors said the 16 patients are in stable condition, adding that the degree of poisoning was not life threatening.

A preliminary investigation by police and fire officers determined that the source of the carbon monoxide was a faulty exhaust pipe that allowed waste gas to flow into a shower room.

Police took the letting agent for the property in for questioning, while his wife accompanied the sick tenants to hospital.

The property manager, surnamed Lu, at the Tianxiang Building said group subletting was a long-standing problem.

The flat at the center of the poisoning incident had been cleared of multiple tenants once before, but its owner, who lives in the United States, appointed a new agent, who let it out again, she said.

The current residents are mostly migrant workers, each of whom pays 400 yuan (US$65.31) a month to live there.

“There are four apartments in the building that are sublet to groups. The tenants put up with the poor conditions because the rent is so low,” Lu said.

One tenant even threatened Lu’s life when she tried to have him moved out, she said.


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